CAMPUS CLOSEUP: LISA ALTO
Many offices and departments kick into high gear at the beginning of the fall semester, but for Lisa Alto (Housing and Residence Life), summer is the busiest time of year. As a clerk, she assigns students to residence halls and supplies training information to resident directors. She also spends much of her time on the phone answering students’ questions and reassuring nervous parents.
“Parents get anxious about sending their kids away to college, so I do everything I can to assure them that NMU is a safe, healthy environment and that their children made the right decision when they chose to come here,” she said.
Alto had no fears about her 19-year old son, Paul, attending Northern. “It’s a small, friendly campus that’s close to home; I’m glad he chose to take advantage of it. I wasn’t ready to let him go yet.” Paul is an English major, but is considering switching to cinematography. Alto’s 15-year old daughter, Chiara, also plans to attend NMU to pursue a degree in nursing.
Born and raised in Ishpeming, Alto’s “Yooper accent” often causes parents to ask what country she’s from. “I suppose Ishpeming can be considered a separate country,” she joked.
After high school, Alto craved a change of scenery and relocated to Florida, Massachusetts and Detroit before eventually moving back to Ishpeming. “I’ll never leave the area again; I love it up here too much,” she said.
Outside of work, Alto enjoys gardening. Vegetables are her specialty, but she likes to experiment with different flowers as well. She and her family also spend a lot of time at camp, which her husband and son built themselves. Her dream job has always been to work with handicapped children, but her four years with college students have been a positive experience for her. “Everyone is just drawn to her; her sense of humor and compassion for people make everyone feel comfortable to talk to her” said a co-worker.
What Alto likes best about NMU is its sense of caring. “When I began this job, I was instructed to help the kids as much as I can, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I get a kick out of the students and try to joke around with them when I can so that they don’t feel intimidated to come talk to me when a problem arises.”
Campus Closeup is a new feature of the NMU faculty-staff newsletter. It profiles individual employees, offering a glimpse of their professional responsibilities and personal interests.